As I was making the decision to "throw my hat" into the millinery ring, I asked myself ..
what message is it that I want to be sending to my demographic, to my audience regarding
my company and my mission statement .  It did not take me long to decide on a basic concept ..
to GIVE BACK .  I am at a place in my life that it is extremely important to me to know that I am
doing everything in my power to be part of something larger than just myself .  VANNER AMBASSADORS was manifested .  The photo journalist in me wanted to utilize the hats as a conduit to tell people's stories . People who inspire .. people who are true to themselves and honor life and others .  After many years of trying this job or that job on, I knew that this new endeavor was going to have a soul for me to want to follow through  .. the gypsy in me can tend to get distracted.  As I was brainstorming about who it would be to be the first VANNER ambassador, I knew immediately who I would HOPE for it to be .  A most incredible group of women warriors who I happen to have a kindred bonding spirit with .. MILITARY WIVES.

I reached out to a friend I have remained in contact with in San Diego and shared with her my idea .. what an honor it would be to have 10-20 women in the community representing my new line of hats.  She was immediately supportive and on board .. and from that moment on, she helped hand select who would come to be the first 10 Vanner Ambassadors.  Each woman, so different, sharing in the same intense passion that has become their lives, each individually paving their own way through it all.  They each showed up positive, happy and open to whatever I needed from them.  Their ease clearly coming from all that is required of them as a wife, a mother, a career woman, a friend, a warrior.  I asked them to show up wearing VERY little due to the fact that I wanted the harshness of the architectural landscape and hats to speak for themselves and for the women's faces and souls to be the focal point as well.  At first, maybe a few were a little skeptical about the attire of choice, but after a meet and greet with a glass of champagne and some mood enhancing music, it was game on.

As you can see from the images, the women's striking strength and beauty oozes off the page.  I really had to do nothing but show up and ask them to choose which hat spoke to them.  The stories that these women could tell .. the things that they have seen .. the sacrifices that they make, awe-inspiring.  They do it humbly, graciously and selflessly.  Two of the women are actually who I considered to be part of my personal tribe .. after our day, in my heart, they are ALL a part of my tribe, or shall I say I have the honor of being part of THEIRS.  There is indeed a bond that is difficult to explain to those who have not been married into the military .. a ya-ya sisterhood of sorts complete with certain late-night tribal dances and ceremonial traditions that breathe life back into the sometimes overwhelming sense of isolation one can feel at times.   Whether we all personally had met before that day made no difference, for we already knew one another's plight.

It was one of the grandest days of my life other than the birth of my son and daughter .. a day of bonding, strength, beauty and HOPE.  Words are difficult for me at times .. especially words that I know will be read by the very people I am speaking of, but I am committed to this.  To sharing stories of heartache, love, life, hope and truth and yes, selling some really rad hats too.
It is my hope that each of you will go and do the same .. thank someone today for inspiring you, for being courageous enough to be themselves, for loving and committing so fiercely to what it is they believe in.
Go forth and spread the VANNER love.

Women empowering Women .. that is what is represented here.
These women represent the true essence of strength, compassion and integrity that I hope to represent with Vanner Hats.  It was my absolute pleasure to visit with each lady about their lives, their families and their dreams.  They have helped bring a dream of mine into the reality.  In combining efforts of powerful souls, beautiful crowns and a desire to collaborate and create .. Vanner Hats has been birthed.

May we know them ..
May we be them ..
and May we raise them !

- unknown

Until next time .. be well and raise hell .!

Courtney LZ